Thursday, February 9, 2017

Tekken 5 Review - Heihachi went out like a Jack and a bomb

                 February 24, 2005 (North America)                 
                 March 31, 2005 (Japan)                 
                 June 24, 2005 (Europe)
Platform(s): Arcade, PlayStation 2
Genre(s): Fighting
Developer(s): Namco
                  Namco (Worldwide)                     
                  Sony Computer Entertainment (Europe)
Player(s): 1-2 


Though the glory days of Tekken 2 and 3 are well behinds us by this point that hasn't stopped the franchise from still going strong. After the non-canonical fun of Tekken Tag Tournament and the innovative (yet controversial) Tekken 4, fans were hungry for more especially with the franchise's 10th anniversary on the way and that's where Tekken 5 comes in being released on arcades of late 2004. Does it make for a sufficient anniversary gift? Let's find out.. 


Most of the mechanics introduced from Tekken 4 have made a return for this title but Tekken 5 brings the 3D combat system a bit closer to it's roots so the control scheme is back to what it once was. Position Change has been removed pretty much entirely from the game meaning the secondary grab attack move is back to it's original command input and the stages are no longer have uneven terrains like in Tekken 4, but at least there's no pesky obstacles to get in the way of combat. You can still use the walls to your advantage and there are even some "infinite" stages like the ones in pre-Tekken 4 games.

Another thing about Tekken 5 is that it goes through all the stops to make characters as balanced and unique as possible (thus removing any hyper-similarities they once had). In fact, the only characters that can be seen as OP are Nina Williams and Steve Fox but not nearly as OP as Jin Kazama in Tekken 4 (where he's just broken). Speaking of Jin, players now actually have to play their cards right as he lost his overpowered moves. The new characters are a nice addition like the Canadian Ninja Raven who probably could give Yoshimitsu a run for his money, the tomboyish Asuka Kazama (Jin's younger cousin) who uses the Kazama Style Traditional Martial Arts but with her own little twist to things, and the psychotic Chinese Kempo master Feng Wei. Old-school characters who haven't been in any Tekken since after Tekken Tag like Ganryu, Bruce Irvin, and Baek Doo Son have made a return with revamped movesets     


The game modes you expect to return are back in this game. Story Battle is mostly the same as it was in Tekken 4 only there's 9 stages in total and the final boss is... Jinpachi Mishima (the father of Heihachi Mishima), who's arguably the cheapest character in Tekken history but good thing he's not playable. The hidden characters are also unlocked through here once again entirely on how many characters you complete it with and all of them are unlocked this way except Devil Jin (who unlocked after fighting 200 times in Arcade Battle or completing Tekken: Devil Within). 

It also seems Tekken has taken a page out of Virtua Fighter's book by having you play through Arcade Battle as long as you want and choose whoever to fight next just like VF4: Evolution's Quest mode. There's also a new ranking system just like the Quest mode where you can go from Beginner to 5th Dan to Tekken Lord. This ranking system determines how tough your opponents are and the amount of G (multiplied by the occasional bonus) you earn after winning each match as well as your chances of being promoted while fighting against tougher opponents. Be careful not to lose too many matches or you may get demoted as well.

Now, you're probably wondering what purpose does G (an obvious abbreviation for Gold) serve in this game? Well they can be used within the Customize mode to modify a character's appearance with different color schemes, additional gear or different clothing, and even a new super expensive costume... but these accessories are purely cosmetic so they don't have any real purpose unless you want your character look cool. You can also earn G from Story Battle (which gives you 100,000 after completing it with a character), Time Attack, Survival, and Devil Within (which gives you 2,000,000 after completing it) but Arcade Battle provides faster and more consistent results.

One thing I've neglected to mention in my Tekken 4 Review (since that game was the first to make that change) is that you can now pause during gameplay in Time Attack and Survival. Another thing I've neglected to mention is within the Attack Replay option of Practice is you can make the computer repeat any move from their Command List with varying input speed instead of just replaying their 10-hit combo moves (which is a good thing because not every character had a 10-hit combo move... they do now, though)... but the Training mode has been removed.

As celebration of the series' 10th anniversary to gracing Playstation with it's ports, Tekken 5 comes with the arcade versions of the first three Tekken games plus another arcade classic by Namco called Starblade (which is unlocked after completing Story Battle with every character or completing Devil Within) in Arcade History. Despite including four extra games into one disc the transition are done to perfection with no signs of slow-down or graphical errors (like distorted character models or misplaced colors).

Lastly, we come to Tekken: Devil Within which is the action-platformer spiritual successor to the Tekken Force mini-game only it uses it's own mechanics instead of using the game's core gameplay as a base. In Devil Within you take control of Jin Kazama as you go around various corridors and fight off generic monks to discover a way to rid himself of the Devil gene and find his missing mother with a boss waiting at the end of each stage. This most likely takes place shortly after (or during... I dunno) Tekken 3 as Jin fights using his old mix-pot style with a very simplified combo system and you can even turn into the devil form (at the cost of gradually losing health) with the lasers and whatnot... if your red gauge is high enough. Admittedly, this sounds great on paper but the whole experience is bogged down by repetition and a bogus difficulty curve which saps out much of the fun had rather quickly.


With 3 years of development under it's belt there is definitely a graphical improved and this game is easily the best-looking Tekken has ever gotten on PS2. No matter how you slice it, Tekken 5 is a gorgeous game- everything is just so crisp and detailed. This game may be one of the best-looking to ever be released on PS2. The animation on both the characters and especially stages have been improved as well making the whole thing very lively. You can even cause damage to the floors and walls of most stages.


Most of the voice clips are recycled from Tekken 4 but some returning characters have reprise their roles so now all the voice actors/actresses sound perfectly good. The SFX now sound crunchier and are overall much more viscerally satisfying than before. As expected the music is quite good... in fact, I'd say this game has the best soundtrack in the series aside from Tekken 2. It's very diverse with each stage having music that's atmospheric/region-specific.


Much like Tekken 4 most of the story in Tekken 5 is told through text-based prologues and epilogues (though there aren't as many epilogues in this game) on top of an ending movie for each character to set things off. We also now get a few interludes for each character.

The main story of Tekken 5 is shortly after Jin had defeated his father and grandfather respectively, Homaru is under attack by a bunch of JACK models but suddenly during fighting off the JACKs, Kazuya had left Heihachi for dead and one of the JACKs went kamikaze thus killing Heihachi... or does it? This explosion destroyed the Homaru building which allowed Jinpachi, who was trapped under the building and starved to death, to break free and take back the Mishima Zaibatsu (which was founded by him) from his crocked son. 2 months later... Jinpachi had started the 5th Iron Fist Tournament so he can find an opponent strong enough to beat before the demon possessing him (which awoken from the very presence of Jin's devil form in Homaru) takes full control and destroys all of mankind. Now this point in Tekken is where I believe is where the story started to become wack whatnot from the needless retcons of Tekken 2 and 3's great storylines to turning once respectable characters into just comic relief (including my fave Paul Phoenix).

On the other hand, the look and feel of the menus continue to get better and better but this also seems to imply to characters' intro and winning sequences during battles including more dynamic camera angles and subtitles so you can understand the foreign characters. 


Despite the increasing niche of the fighting game genre and the dying arcade scene outside Japan, Namco still managed to pull out yet another great game for this franchise... but how long can Tekken keep up this momentum before it hits the wall like the Virtua Fighter series? Only time will tell...

Overall, I give this game a 9.5 out of 10.

1 comment:

  1. The relationship between Asuka and Jin hasn't been clarified, Harada says they're relatives rather than cousins.